New Brunswick aquaculture company faces pesticide charge

Little information is being released about a charge to be laid this month against New Brunswick-based Northern Harvest Sea Farms.

Northern Harvest Sea Farms scheduled to be in Saint John court May 15

Northern Harvest operates salmon farms in the Bay of Fundy and in Newfoundland. (Northern Harvest Sea Farms)

Little information is being released about a charge to be laid this month against New Brunswick-based Northern Harvest Sea Farms.

The company is alleged to have violated a section of the province's Pesticides Control Act.

Northern Harvest has nine licences for salmon cage sites on the Bay of Fundy and other sites off Newfoundland. It also operates a processing plant in St. George.

The Department of Environment and Local Government is saying little about the case. 

"We confirm that an investigation is taking place, but we will not offer any comment at this time since it is ongoing," spokesperson Anthony Doiron said.

The provincial court docket for Saint John lists a court appearance for the company May 15.

Northern Harvest is scheduled to answer to an alleged violation under Section 15 of the New Brunswick Pesticides Control Act: "No person shall use a pesticide in a manner contrary to ... the manufacturer's written recommendation as to its use, contained in or on the pesticide container in which the pesticide was contained."

Matthew Abbott of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick says the organization will follow the pesticides case closely. (CBC)

Company president Larry Ingalls did not respond to an interview request Thursday.

Fundy baykeeper Matt Abbott of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick said the use of pesticides in the bay is a big concern even when they are used legally by the aquaculture industry. 

He said the environmental organization will be following the case closely.

"They appear to allege potential off-label use [of a pesticide] but at this point that's all we know," Abbott said. "This is the first time I have been aware of charges against an aquaculture company under provincial regulations relating to pesticide use.

"So I'll be very interested to see how this plays out."

Sea lice control killed lobster

In 2013 another company, Kelly Cove Salmon, a division of Cooke Aquaculture, pleaded guilty to violations of the federal Fisheries Act in connection with the deaths of hundreds of lobsters in the Bay of Fundy from use of an illegal pesticide in an attempt to get control of sea lice at a salmon farm site.

The company, which operates more than 100 aquaculture farms in Atlantic Canada, was fined $100,000.

It was also ordered to pay $350,000 to the University of New Brunswick's environmental studies program and an additional $50,000 in trust to the environmental damages fund.

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Connell Smith

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Connell Smith is a reporter with CBC in Saint John. He can be reached at 632-7726 Connell.smith@cbc.ca